Friday, April 5, 2013

How small/narrow can you go?

Several months ago, my brother recommended a documentary called We the Tiny House People. Last week I finally found the time to sit down and watch it. It's one hour and 20 minutes of fascinating voyeurism into the lives of people who make their homes in very compact spaces.

Some of the homes were renovated spaces that weren't originally created to house people. One man in Barcelona lives in what was formerly a pigeon coop on top of a building, another man in Bordeaux converted an abandoned garage. The documentary writer, Kirsten Dirkson, demonstrates how "history defines square footage" as she travels the world to meet these interesting people.

She herself lives in a 1,000-square-foot apartment with her family, and shares the same fascination with these miniature dwellings as I do.

"I’m not looking to downsize, but I can’t get enough of these tiny homes. I’m sure there’s something Thoreauvian in my attraction to the examined lives of those who inhabit them. I continue to be impressed by how so many Tiny House People have been able to let go of their stuff and not despite, but because of this, find a certain calm."

You can watch the whole documentary here.

Just like Kirsten, I'm not about to hawk my home and move into a 200-square-foot space, but it did get me thinking about how much space Josh and I truly need to live comfortably and happily. We have plans drawn up for our next house, but often we'll see a lot for sale (with a "tear down" on it) that isn't quite wide enough to fit our house plans and keep within the bylaws of how close you can build to the property line.

It's got me thinking about narrow houses, and how you can make them cosy and welcoming if you plan the layout well and maximize space.

Here's one such narrow home that caught my eye recently. It's a row house in Brooklyn that has been extensively renovated and designed by CWB Architects. There didn't seem to be a photo of the front of the house, but the backyard view gives you an idea of the narrowness of this fabulous space.

The décor here is stunning - it's a great combination of traditional and contemporary elements. The pillows are made with one of my favourite fabrics - Chiang Mai by Schumacher.

I showed the photo below to Josh and said, "how much fun would this room be if you were kid?" His response?

"Forget kids - I would have so much fun in this space."

In a place like Brooklyn, history (and population) truly does define living space. Josh and I may have more space available to us in a smaller city like Saskatoon, but that doesn't necessarily mean we have to spread ourselves out on a wide lot. I think we can make do with a smaller space and the simplicity that comes with it.

As an aside - the offer we put in last week didn't go through. The seller received another offer that afternoon with no conditions, slightly over asking price.


Anonymous said...

I too love small spaces! We have a bigger 1940s house in Regina but I find myself looking at Arts and Crafts or mid-century bungalows for their simplicity! LOVE the blog, we seem to love all the same things (Food, travel, pretty things, design, decor, period TV!)


Jules said...

Thanks for your kind words Kerry! You'd definitely enjoy the documentary I mentioned if you're into small spaces/tiny homes.

I did another post about Tiny Homes back in 2011 that you can find here: